GARRETT REISMAN served as a Mission Specialist Astronaut for NASA for 13 years and was the first Jewish crew member on the International Space Station (ISS). He flew on two missions to the ISS, the first in 2008 with the STS 123 crew on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This first trip to space lasted 95 days, which he jokingly refers to as a “bummer,” as at 100 days astronauts earn coveted patches. During this mission, he sent a greeting from space to the people of Israel in celebration of Israel’s 60th Independence Day.
In 2010, Dr. Reisman flew again to space on Atlantis with the STS 132 crew. STS refers to Space Transport System and is the code for flight crews. This second mission was completed in 186 orbits, traveling 4,879,978 miles in 11 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds. Like the children who consider astronauts super heroes, Dr. Reisman likens astronaut’s experiences to being a super hero: “People expect weightlessness to be slow motion. It’s not. You move, essentially you fly. It’s like having a super power.”
Over his two missions, Dr. Reisman performed three spacewalks, logging 21 hours. His tasks out in space included manipulating a robotic arm, adding an antenna to the ISS, and replacing 400 lb. batteries. He reveled in the experience, “In addition to growing an inch in space (Dr. Reisman is 5’4” on Earth), the highlight of the missions were the spacewalks “…tethered to the [ISS] behind you, you look forward at Earth and it was just amazing, a humbling sight. The Earth is immense, it fills up your entire field of view. An absolutely beautiful vision.”
Hailing from New Jersey, Dr. Reisman was born in 1968. As a youth, his visits to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. served as inspiration for his space adventures, “my parents took me to the museum, and after an hour they were ready to move on to the next tourist destination. Me? I was just beginning. I told them to go and come back to pick me up at the end of the day. I did end up spending the day in awe at the museum.”
He studied economics, mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, eventually earning a Masters and Ph.D in mechanical engineering from Cal Tech.
Currently, Dr. Reisman is the Director of Space Operations at SpaceX here in Southern California.
Twelve Jewish Americans have traveled to space to date. The first was Judith Resnick, who died when the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed during its launch January 1986.
Dr. Reisman will share highpoints of his spaceflight experiences, as well as details of other Jewish American astronauts including Judith Resnik, Dave Wolf, and Greg Chamitoff. A consummate storyteller, Dr. Reisman promises to delight the audience young and old with tales of space travel.
Geri Dorman is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.